word incarnate

Flesh in the Game

word incarnate

I did not intend to stop writing. 

I wasn’t even sure I could stop writing without having a serious emotional breakdown.

But that’s exactly what happened.  Shortly before Mother’s Day, I wrote a piece that would be my last for several months.  After that, I simply stopped writing.

I didn’t plan it that way.  In fact, I tried to get back to my keyboard to release the words that kept dripping into my brain, but I couldn’t do it.  I felt I owed readers an explanation, at the very least, but I couldn’t do that either.  Just as soon as I thought I had words to say, God said, Wait, I’m not done talking yet.

God was doing something in my quiet, and every time I tried to put words to it, I stopped hearing.  That’s the thing about listening: you can’t hear yourself and someone else at the same time. 

Besides the fact, the hearing was hard:

Are you serving me or protecting yourself?

Are you using your talents or building your reputation?

Are you caring for the lost sheep or feeding a fat flock? 

Are you willing to hear me without explaining away the very thing I just said?

Are you really willing to leave everything behind, take up your cross, and follow Me?

I was wrestling through all of these questions when God hit me with the knock-out punch.

Kristen, are you willing to be the Word incarnate?

 

Flesh in the game

Flesh in the game

Wait…what?!

Word.  Incarnate.  He said it over and over again in the quiet because I am so good at hearing and not listening.  Are you willing to be the Word incarnate?

I had no problem with the first part of that equation.  Word.  High and lofty, timeless, creative, powerful, awe-inspiring:  Words!  I love them.

But incarnate?  That’s where everything gets messy.  Besides, I was pretty sure the whole incarnation thing was Jesus’s job, and I was glad to let him have it.

Not that I wasn’t grateful–don’t get me wrong.  What a mess I would be in if God stopped with the one and not the other, if he was only Word and not flesh.  But he wasn’t.  Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  Jesus Christ, Creator of heaven and earth, willingly stepped into his own spoken word for me.

That is the gospel. 

That is the gospel I heard and said I believed while living exactly like it didn’t apply to me.

And God was calling me out on it.

He knew I spent more time justifying my lifestyle and feeling smug about my “ministry” than I did in actually considering what he said and doing it.  Widows and orphans?  I cried real tears for them.  The least of these?  I was going to do something about them just as soon as I figured out who was using the system and who was not.  Care for the sick?  I had just made a pot of soup for a friend with a kidney stone, I kid you not.  Feed the sheep?  Yep, I’d written a post or two about that, and I was pretty sure my words were generating a lot of sheep-feeding excitement in the virtual world, and I hadn’t had to interact with any actual lost sheep to make it happen.  That’s what I called leveraging my energy.

According to my calculations, I was rocking the incarnation.  I mean, I blogged about just about every aspect of my life, as honestly as possible.  How much more incarnational with the word could I get?

But God was having none of it. Stop hiding behind your words, Kristen.

It was completely ridiculous of God to say that to me because I wasn’t even doing that.

“God, I’m not even doing that.”

Yes, you are.

“No, I’m a writer.  Words are the way I use my gifts and talents for your glory.”

Ahem.

Words are the way you have been distracting yourself from my calling.

“I thought writing was my calling!”

No.

“What?”

No.

“It sounds like you’re saying…yeeeeeeeesssssss, but you need to speak up.”

No.  Writing is not your calling. 

This is not (ultimately) your calling.

This is not (ultimately) your calling.

It’s hard to have a conversation with a deity who doesn’t make sense, so I just shut up.  Strangely, it seemed like my silence was what God wanted all along.

You are called to be like me.  To love like I loved, to minister like I ministered, to be more than just word—to be flesh among flesh.  Because it wasn’t just the Word that saved you, child.  It was my body.  My blood. 

And when I tell you to go and do likewise, I don’t mean just write an essay on it. 

“I think I already wrote an essay on that…”

If you want to be like me, you need to become the Word incarnate. 

“Oh.”  I had no idea what was happening but it was scary and confusing  and I felt a little like a kid who didn’t know her dad’s favorite color wasn’t hot pink until just after she made him a Play-do creation in…hot pink.

Kristen, you are the Body of Christ.

“I know, Lord.  I’m the mouth.”

How about you start acting like the hands. 

“What do you mean?”  (That was just a stalling tactic.  I was hoping God was going to think it over and tell me to write a book).

I mean, it’s time to get some flesh in the game.

That’s what I was afraid of.

“That’s what I’m afraid of.”  I decided I’d let God in on what I was thinking.

BE NOT AFRAID.

That was my phrase for the year.  Fear not.  Be not afraid. It was completely unfair of God to remind me of it when I was actually afraid because I had picked it when I was feeling brave.

I considered throwing up.

But before I could, the God who took on flesh for me opened a door for me to take on flesh for him.  He silenced my mouth and opened my hands.  I’ve been silent on the blog but only because I haven’t had a moment on the sidelines to catch my breath or find the words.

Until now.

*Stay tuned to hear what God’s been doing in the quiet. 

Take the Rose

Take the Rose

Take the Rose

All across the country today, churches are handing out flowers to mothers in honor of Mother’s Day.  And all across the country, women stand at the doors of those Christ-dwellings, trembling.

They are the women who yelled at their children just five minutes before.

They are the women who conceived but never bore.

They are the women who feel their motherhood is trapped inside where no one can see it.

They are the women who fought for a child and lost.

They are the women became mothers in their bodies before their hearts were ready.

They are the women who do not love motherhood.

They are the women who long for motherhood.

Long ago, when someone pondered the good and lofty calling of motherhood, she could not know that declaring a national holiday to celebrate maternity would end up being such a nasty business.  After all, everyone has a mother.

Yet not everyone is a mother. 

Suit-clad ushers stand at church doors with buckets of roses to thrust at the women who come in with a gaggle of children, but they cannot know the depths of motherhood in the hearts of the women who come in alone. 

This one suffered a miscarriage just the month before.

This one is putting part of her paycheck aside every month for an adoption that may never happen.

This one has put more miles on her car and gotten more invasive exams than any woman ever should just to find out why.

This one hugs neighbor kids whose own mother cannot be bothered.

This one struggles to be the mother she knows she needs to be, even though she feels the weight of failure night after night when the kids are in bed and she relives the day.

This one knows she is a mother, and she knows she is not a mother, all at once. 

It is a beautiful, nasty business the way God created women to mother.  He wove the threads in so tight, they pull and rip and ache sometimes, especially when some women are clothed in motherhood, and others are half-naked and clinging to rags.

Women, we are mothers; we are not mothers.  All of us.

All across the country, the church doors are open and meager roses try to distinguish which is which.  Only it cannot be done.  If motherhood was nothing more than a biological distinction, it might be easier.

But motherhood is so much more than pregnancy.  It is so much more than birth.  It is even  more than sheer emotional attachment.  It is all of it and none of it all at once, and just as soon as you think you have it all figured out, another mother comes along and messes up all the algorithm.

So who gets a rose?

You do.

You who have borne children.

You who have nurtured children.

You who have lost children.

You who love children and you who want to love them more.

Take the rose.

Reach out your hand, not with trembling fear of judgment but with bold confidence that the God who made you made you to mother, whether you bore those babies in your body or not.  Take the rose because mothering children is so much more than procreation.  Take the rose because it is procreation.

Take the rose because you are a mother. 

Take it because you are not yet the mother you want to be.

Take it because motherhood is more than a becoming.  It is a being, and you can be a mother long before you have children, and you can not be a mother for a long time after.

It is a beautiful, nasty business, motherhood.

But if God wove motherhood into you, it was because He chose you for it.  He is the one who determines your motherhood. Not a baby. Not a rose.  

And He is not bothered in the least if your motherhood defies convention.  He is big enough to glory in a motherhood that is messy.  He is big enough to bless a motherhood that is barren.  He is big enough to rejoice in a motherhood that plays out on a stage only He can see.

If He put within you a heart for children and whispered “Mother” into your ear, then it is done.  It cannot be undone by any force on this earth.

You are a mother.

Take the rose.

 

Glass etching a mirror

Make an Etched Mirror, Plus a Giveaway!!!

Glass etching a mirror

I love old stuff.  I love the dusty smell the years leave behind and the memories tucked into things that have lasted long beyond their owners.

I particularly love old mirrors, the kind that have real silver on the backs and bubbles in the glass and hand-glued labels on the wood.  I haul them home whenever I can, and my husband gives me that husband look that says he doesn’t appreciate blurry, wrecked mirrors the way I do and he wonders if we don’t already have enough already?

As if.

One of the mirrors I scavenged was from a church garage sale.  It was framed with barn boards and the silver was delightfully scratched and it weighed about half as much as me.  I lugged it home and when my husband rolled his eyes, I said, “Don’t worry.  I’m going to do something with this.”

Which, in point of fact, was not the part that worried him.

My plan was to make an etched mirror.  For years, I toyed around with what to do.  I even bought supplies to make my own stencil, but I couldn’t quite find the right thing and I was a little afraid I would ruin the mirror (never mind the fact that my husband thought it was too late for that).

So, I was thrilled when I turned on my computer one day and found a link a friend shared to Fruitful Vine Creations.  They make gorgeous vinyl wall decals in every shape and size, including the one below.

to walk justly

Micah 6:8 happens to be one of my favorite verses.  I even named a child after that book of the Bible.  I was in love.

The size of this decal was perfect for my mirror.  I knew I could affix the vinyl piece to it and the hardest part of my glass-etching project would be done for me!

Best of all, this particular letter art was being featured that week as the company’s Fruitful Deal.  Every week, they offer one vinyl letter design at a deep discount.  I scored this design for 50% off!

Once my order arrived, I positioned the vinyl decal on my mirror.

Vinyl Wall Art

Then, I secured the design with tape on one edge and peeled the back off.  This way, I could flip the design back onto the glass.  (All the directions are included in the package, and they are super easy to follow, so don’t worry if that part doesn’t make sense.  It will when you see their step-by-step tutorial).

I squeegeed the design onto the glass, pushing out air bubbles and making sure the design was stuck on tight.  Since I was going to be applying glass etching acid to the top of this vinyl, I wanted to make sure all the edges were sealed.

Fruitful Vine Creations

Once that was done, I carefully pulled the top sheet off.  The decal was perfectly positioned underneath.

Applying Vinyl to a Mirror

Now it was time to get to work with the etching. 

To etch glass at home, all you need is glass etching goo.  This is what I used to do the job.  This is the link to the product description on my Amazon affiliate page.  But,  it’s crazy expensive.  I highly recommend using a coupon and getting it at your local craft store if you can.  I got mine at Hobby Lobby for 40% off.

Armour Etch

Using a paint brush, smear that stuff all over the mirror, right on top of the vinyl, until it is evenly coated.

Glass Etch

The product is a little lumpy.  Ignore.

The directions on the Armour Etch say to leave the product on for 60 seconds.  I tested this with a smaller bottle and that amount of time was not nearly sufficient.  Maybe it’s because my mirror is very old and things were made better back in the day.  I don’t know.  But I had to go back and purchase another bigger bottle and try again.

Bother.

I let it sit for about fifteen minutes, or until I could see the glass was cloudy underneath.  Then, I washed off the creme, cleaned the mirror, and let it dry.

Decorate a mirror

You will notice that the glass-etching product did not take evenly.  Grrr…I am telling myself that the variations in cloudiness are in keeping with the weathered look of the mirror.  I may go back and purchase another jar of Armour Etch if I decide not to leave my children an inheritance.

You will also notice that the vinyl looks just as good as it did before I applied the acid.  In fact, a simple design might be able to be used again.

For me, it was time to remove the vinyl letters and see if the etching worked.

Glass Etching

It did!

This particular design from Fruitful Vine Creations is very delicate, so I was a little worried that the acid might get underneath the thin parts.  It didn’t.  The vinyl stuck tight, just like it was supposed to, and gave me beautiful, crisp lines.

Vinyl Glass Etching

It’s hard to tell because the mirror creates a double image, but the lines are so clean.  You can even feel them with your fingers, just like on real etched-glass.

Glass etching mirrors

I love the way the Scripture verse looks on the mirror.  The light catches the words in different ways at different times, and it is beautiful.  Even my husband has to admit that this old mirror isn’t so bad.

Aren’t you all dying to get your hands on some vinyl letter art so you can create your own etched mirror masterpiece???

You are in luck!  I contacted Tonya over at Fruitful Vine Creations and told her what amazing readers I have and how much you all would love to shop on her site.  She offered to give you all a chance to win a $50 shopping spree from Fruitful Vine Creations!  This gift certificate can be used on anything in their store, including shipping!  The only exclusions are the My Fruitful Deal decals (which are already a smashing great price, you might just want to sign up for their sale e-mails so you don’t miss any).

To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter below!  I will draw a winner at 6 pm Monday, April 14.  Enjoy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Leave a comment.

How to Fix Furniture with Mayo

How to Fix Furniture with Mayo

How to Fix Furniture with Mayo

Last Friday, we got a bigger dining room table.  It’s from Pottery Barn, ya’ll.  Remember my love affair with Pottery Barn?

Even though it isn’t new, it’s the only thing in my house from Pottery Barn (and probably always will be),  Better yet, all my kids can fit around it with room for company (as long as that company doesn’t have personal space issues), so I kind of love it.

Two days after we hauled that baby into the dining room, I scorched the top.  If you follow my Five in Tow Facbebook page, you already heard the confession.  Basically, I plunked my red-hot cast-iron Dutch oven smack down on top of that thing, and even though I had hot pads underneath the pot, it didn’t matter.

When I cleared the table after dinner, I saw a huge, ugly white mark right in the middle of the table.  I ruined my Pottery Barn table two days after taking possession of it!

This is why we can’t have nice stuff.   I am not worthy.

I almost burst into tears right then and there.  Then I remembered some old trick involving mayonnaise and wood.  Really, that’s all I had.  I couldn’t even remember what the mayo was supposed to help with but I grabbed the jar from the fridge and smeared some right on that horrific mark.

It disappeared. 

I could not believe it.  I can have nice things after all!  I can!

In my distress about the table, I did not think to take a picture before smearing on the condiments, but I did post my success to Facebook.  I went on there and told you all how to fix furniture with mayo.

That started an interesting question.  Some of you had heard of the ol’ mayo trick but had not had such stellar results.  You were sad because you could not fix your furniture with mayo.

That got me thinking.  I had some ideas of why my table responded so well to the mayonnaise, and it had to do with heat.  The spot on my table was still warm when I applied the mayo, and I wondered if that had anything to do with the amazing results.

I decided to do some experimenting.

CAN MAYO REALLY FIX FURNITURE?

It just so happens that I also ruined another piece of furniture a few years ago (see note above about not being able to have nice things).  My mother-in-law gave me an antique dresser when we first got married.  Technically, she loaned it to me, but I’ve got squatter’s rights on it now.

Besides, there’s the awkward fact that I made a huge watermark on the top of that very dresser because I didn’t realize the fern I had watered completely overflowed.  Water pooled up under the pot and sat there grinning until I noticed it later that night.

By then, it was too late.

I didn’t know what to do so I’ve been hiding that awful spot under piles of clothing for the last two years.  My husband thinks I’m a slob.  Really, I just can’t have nice things (see note above).

Watermarks on furniture

Do you think she’d notice something is different about it?  I mean, it has been a few years.

Water damaged furniture

It seemed this piece of furniture was prime for a little..experimentation (my husband agrees, especially if experimentation is synonymous with burning).  If anything screams, “You’ve got nothing to lose!” it’s this dresser.

First, I smeared mayonnaise all over the watermark and let it sit.  I didn’t notice much, if any, difference.  Some of the very faint marks looked a little better, but it was negligible.

It was time to test my hypothesis.

SO…I got out my hair dryer.  Holy smokes.  Check out what happened.

Furniture Restoration with mayo

I put the hair-dryer on high, and half-an-hour later, it looked like this:

Repair furniture with mayo

That’s a two-year-old, nasty watermark, and it almost disappeared!  In case you forgot how horrific it looked before, here’s the side-by-side:

Use Mayo to erase watermarks

I noticed that the darker places were the peaks of the mayo.  In other words, the places where the mayo was the thickest turned out the darkest.

So I went gangster with the mayo on that watermark. Fix furniture with mayo

Overkill, perhaps?

This time, I heated the wood before I applied the mayonnaise.  Then, I smeared it on thick and hit it with more heat.  I know you’re thinking, “I don’t have time to blow-dry a dresser.”  Neither do I.  So, I rigged up this high-tech automatic blow-drying device.  Ta-da!
Furniture Repair with Mayo

After three rounds, the dresser looks like this:

The Amazing Mayo Trick

Now, it’s not perfect, especially since the water damage actually changed the texture of the top of the dresser.  But it’s significantly better than it was earlier today.  Given the level of damage on this particular piece of furniture, I’d say the mayonnaise did an amazing job!  In fact, I could probably get away with putting just one bird on it.

Furniture repaired by mayo

MAYO FOR THE WIN!

I’m pretty convinced.  Mayonnaise does an amazing job of restoring furniture damage due to heat, water, or (ahem) neglect.

What does this mean?

We can all have nice things!  (Just keep the mayo close by).

 

 

 

Interruptions

Life Interruptions

Interruptions

The washing machine is choking on bedclothes and pajamas.  A sour-sick smell languishes in the air, half-heartedly mingling with the fresh herbal scents of the lavender and peppermint I am using to disinfect everything.

My son sits on the couch and watches me through hollow eyes.  Just yesterday, he was bright and laughing.  Today, he has aged a hundred years.  His body holds him captive; he’s a pawn in the fight that rages inside.

He is limp.

Fire burns across his cheeks.

I can’t see him in his eyes; he looks at me, but he is not there.

We have been up all night, we two, one of us huddled around the toilet, the other standing guard with a roll of paper towels and a spray bottle.  He has been dunked in a tub or run through a shower three times already.  My hands are chapped from the washing.

The sun has not yet warmed the sleep out of the earth, but already the plans for the day have evaporated.  The intentions of six are trumped by the sickness of one. 

Jonathan’s birthday—his tenth birthday—is just days away, and for the first time in my mothering career, I actually planned a party.  Not just a party for relatives, but a real party with handmade invitations and too-much sugar and ten high-energy testosterone-dripping boy-guests who are all planning to explode things in the backyard by way of celebration.

But everything halts because this child is ill.  I cannot go to the store to get the last few supplies for the cake.  I can’t get the PVC pipe to make marshmallow shooters.  I can’t even get out of the laundry room long enough to sweep the kitchen floor or pick up the school room.  I can’t…I can’t…I can’t…

Sick Boy

The sudden change in plans, the newly-formed void in my day, opens up a space in me that my heart rushes in to fill.  Gurgling, bubbling, spilling out into me from its excess of good—or bad—my heart shows up in that interruption.

It happens so rapidly, I cannot stop it.  It is just there, like a sudden string of traffic on an already busy morning, and I can do nothing but look and see what has just bubbled up inside of me simply because plans changed.  In an instant, I see the state of things in that hidden room.

Nature abhors a vacuum.  So does the heart.  When the day brings something unexpected, or plans change, or life gets interrupted by God’s intentions, your heart will fill the void. 

It may rush in with hot words and short-tempers, if that is what it has in greatest supply.  Or, if it has enough in stock, it may spill over into your soul with grace and patience.  Either way, the greatest indication of where your heart is at is not in how it behaves when life is under control.  It is in what happens when life is interrupted.  What flows out of your heart then is the surplus, the thing it has the most to spare.

Is it good?

Or is it shameful?

I finally get a moment to stand in the shower while my boy sleeps on the couch with a bowl by his side.  I think back to my grade school days.  Twice a week, we lined up and trotted down the hall to the art room.  We donned oversized shirts to cover up the school clothes we’d already dirtied on the playground and set to work with brushes and pencils and glue that smelled like it should be eaten.

Sometimes, we were given great lumps of clay to work into bowls and saucers and little figurines that our mothers would feel obligated to keep on their dressers until we married.

Those lumps of clay were always gooey and cold in my hands, at first.  If I was impatient and tried to bend it into a bowl, it snapped and crumbled.  But if I held the clay in my hands and worked it until the warmth of my body infused that bit of earth, then I could twist and turn and bend it in any direction, and it would not break.

My heart is clay. 

Sometimes, it is cold and brittle.  Any sudden, unexpected molding causes me to break instead of bend.   It does not matter if I intend to break or not.  It simply happens that way because I was not ready.  My heart was not prepared the way it should have been.

Sick day interruptions

But when I dwell in the hands of the Potter, and His life radiates through every molecule of my little lump of dirt, I cannot help but be pliable.  He has warmed and readied me for His own purposes.

My life was interrupted today.  Was yours?

Did you like what you saw when your heart bubbled up to fill the void in your sense of control?

If not, then take your mind captive to this: Those interruptions are the very things He is using to transform you from a ball of dirt into a holy vessel , sanctified and set apart for Kingdom work.  Those things that seem like interruptions and unexpected annoyances do not take Him by surprise.  In fact, they are His intention for you.

He uses these things to show you what is in your heart.  Then He says, “Now, come into my hands and let us see what we can do with that.”

The interruptions in your day are God’s invitation to dwell in Him.  Let Him hold your heart-clay and make it soft.  Let Him fill you with His radiating goodness so that when life screeches to a halt, His is the One who fills the void.